Top 4 Challenges for Pig Producers

Boehringer Ingelheim survey shows labor tops the list of concerns.

Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) did an online survey in May 2018 of 33 swine producers marketing at least 125,000 pigs annually.

Here's what it showed, along with suggestions and thoughts from producers:

The biggest challenge for producers is labor availability.

  • Guest worker / foreign exchange programs
  • Immigration reform – allow employable people who want to work to stay
  • Need a united voice through NPPC
  • Recruit high school kids and provide internships
  • Focus on developmental programs in rural areas
  • Increase wages to draw in and retain labor
  • Change perception that livestock jobs are menial
  • Implement technologies to reduce labor needs

The second biggest challenge is maintaining profitability.

  • Benchmark / record keeping to control costs
  • More integration – with packers, grow own feed
  • LT contracts
  • Partner to access better market prices
  • Increase exports / pursue foreign markets
  • Health improvements

The third biggest challenge is market access/exports.

  • Need a united voice (NPPC) in DC
  • Important not to lose access by messing up tariff rates
  • Work with packers to produce what markets want

The fourth biggest challenge is herd health.

  • More monitoring in the barns and environment
  • Filtered sow barns, nurseries, finishers
  • High degree of daily animal husbandry
  • More consulting throughout industry – need to share industry knowledge
  • Increased use of vaccinations and targeted use of antibiotics only when necessary / proper vaccination programs
  • Increased focus on biosecurity / clean facilities / limited transport

Potential Investments

When asked about the highest priorites for investment, producers placed new housing / ventilation at the top. Swine genetics was second.

The benefits expected from investments included:

New housing, ventilation or barn design

  • Gain efficiencies in labor
  • Improvement in growth rate and gain/feed as pigs are more comfortable during summer
  • Ventilation improvements could enhance air-borne aerosol disease prevention products
  • Better layout requires less movement and handling of sows and offspring
  • Better control of disease


  • Improved health, better immunity
  • Disease resistance (PRRS)
  • Improved PSY (pigs/sow/yr)
  • More efficient feed conversion
  • Increased ability to produce attributes that consumers want
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